A Promise to a River

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and I asked Creator, “Why give me this heart? Why make me so strongly connected to land? Why make me care so much for a people with sometimes so little in return? Why?”

and then I wept.

I can sometimes feel the heaviness of duty and passion in my chest, in my body. At times I yearn to be oblivious, to be ignorant of realities and to remain uncaring. What bliss I see in the eyes of the apathetic. Could I be happy with resorting to live a life just for self? To turn blind eyes to land threatening projects and move far far away from here and start anew?

I sometimes feel as if I am partially mad, carrying about with conviction like I do when sometimes I meet those with so little. It would be a lie if I said that at sometimes I wasn’t slightly envious of those individuals. However the illusion of this freedom comes with invisible slavery…. and I want freedom.

I give leeway to others and their opinions and try not to sway those who state otherwise while remaining firmly planted and able to defend my own. But there are times, when doubt blossoms fully, when I feel as if I am just a silly human, a silly girl, making things up as I go along and following my heart to places it ought to be reigned in.

I am of a different nature and I have come to realize that. I will reorganize my life, sacrifice, and make room to act on the things I believe in. I no longer expect others to do so, seeing it is not their journey I am living but only my own.  I don’t see my role as to persuade those who want nothing of causes or beliefs.

The only thing I do know how to do is to share my reality. A part of me says, “Don’t do it, you must remain strong and appear to be unshakeable”.

But does not our strength lie in our ability to confirm our weaknesses too?

I am a woman who made a promise to a river. Over three years ago I laid tobacco down at the waters edge and told the water spirits that I would work my hardest to protect it.

“I will run for you,” I whispered as my fingers broke the rippling surface.

I often wondered if the water remembered my promise. I know that water, lakes and rivers, have been instrumental in my healing journey. The water has held my sorrows, has cleansed me, and has offered me teachings by sitting still and observing it. I have dreamt of this walk and tomorrow, I am fulfilling that promise. I am walking the Peace River Valley with my family over the next two days.

The walk, called “A Journey for Generations”, isn’t tied to any media, any sponsors, and only a few people aside from some members of my extended family are expected.

When people ask me about how it is linked to raising awareness, I can only shrug my shoulders. People will likely drive past us and be unaware of why we are walking and will only know if we are asked.

“People are walking for their own reasons, and I walk for mine,” is about all I can say on the matter.

If others want to hold signs as we walk, they are welcome too. It is new terrain to walk into this and not have everything organized, to not have prepared media releases, and more efforts into invitations to attend. I am learning how to release that part of me that wants to control.

For me, this walk is ceremony. This walk is sacrifice. This walk is prayer. This walk is honouring my promise to a river.

I may just be a silly girl with a heart too big even for herself, but I will walk knowing I have lived with conviction and walked in the footsteps of my ancestors.


In Spirit,

Helen K

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